Leadership Tallahassee is a diverse network of emerging and experienced leaders prepared to meet and anticipate the challenges in our community. Now, more than ever, Tallahassee needs leaders that are willing to look within themselves and their organizations with a focus and commitment to be a part of real change. We encourage you to stand up against racism and the systemic practices that seek to divide and harm, instead of build and empower. I know this responsibility can feel overwhelming but answering the call to lead in difficult times begins with your commitment to be intentional. An intentional leader is a leader that understands themselves and their organization has a clear focus and plan, who strives valiantly and will not stop. As leaders, we must be intentional.
In late February I served as a panelist at a national insurance industry diversity and inclusion conference in New York. There, I posed a question to the audience. How many times do you have to scroll on LinkedIn before you see a post by someone that does not look like you, someone of another race? I coined the exercise the #LinkedInChallenge.
Today I challenge you, the members of Leadership Tallahassee, to take a small step towards self-awareness by taking the #LinkedInChallenge and sharing your results. Why would you do this and why is this important? This is important because an intentional leader must first understand themselves and allow change to start from within. So, stop right now. Open LinkedIn. Take your thumb and move it up. How many times do you have to scroll before you see someone that does not look like you? If you don’t have LinkedIn, the same challenge applies to Facebook or Instagram. Now, ask yourself, based on the number of times you scrolled.
A. Do I have a diverse network?
B. Do I hear diverse voices in my online community?
C. Do I see the diversity of America represented on my feed?
If the answer is no, message me. I welcome the transparency, the conversation, and the connection. If the answer is yes, you are far from done. Ask yourself:
Do I engage with the diverse voices or do I scroll past? Am I willing to listen and to take measurable steps towards self-education, so that I may be a better-informed leader?
No matter what race you are or where you fall on the spectrum of acceptance, self-awareness, willingness, and action, I encourage you to read, watch, and listen to the following:
I Am Not Your Negro (Amazon)
When They See Us (Netflix)
Seven Seconds (Netflix)
Just Mercy (Amazon)
The Kalief Browder Story (Netflix)
The Urgency of Intersectionality (TED Talk)
The Human Stories Behind Mass Incarceration (TED Talk)
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson (Book)
Pushout by Monique Morris (Book)
1619 (New York Times, Podcast)
This by far is not an exhaustive list, but a place to start. As members of Leadership Tallahassee, we-a diverse network of emerging and experienced leaders- must be ready to meet and anticipate the challenges facing our community. What you will find is that the challenges we face today are not new but are rooted in the past, a system, and a cycle of injustice that must be changed. As we enter a new Leadership Tallahassee program year, I challenge each LT member to be an intentional leader: decide who you want to be, identify the gaps between who you are now and the person you are committed to becoming, and then commit to closing the gaps.
To quote Theodore Roosevelt:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Join me in the arena. Let’s strive to do the deeds. We were built for this!
Sha’Ron James, Chair-Elect (LT 21)
Leadership Tallahassee Board of Governors